Halloween, pumpkins, leaves – this season represents the best time of year in my house. My children are excited and look forwards to the October visits to local farms, pumpkin patches, or nature walks, and my favorite parenting memories usually contain a swirl of Autumn colors in memory backdrops. Because my family loves the Halloween season so much I’ve had to be creative with greening this month so not to dampen the excitement and energy. We bought a lot of Halloween plastic crap (that would be beloved crap to my children) when the boys were small. It’s not something I would invest in today, being more green-minded, but along the way, I’ve managed to incorporate some concepts with reusing and being creative this time of year and wanted to share. Early. Greening Halloween takes a bit of time which is why this article is being published while we’re still in September. Greening your life takes a lot of impulse control and leaving decorating, costume shopping, etc. until the last minute will have you making rushed decisions without having the luxury of thinking about sustainability with this holiday.
Yes, the scariest decorations are not going to be made from felt or organics. If you need to add outdoor Holiday decor – purchase a decoration that will last and can be reused for many years. Many people are looking to downsize their Halloween collections – always check Craig’s List first to purchase decorations that are not made from Eco-friendly materials.
Have a wooden outdoor structure locally made! My favorite decoration sits on our front lawn and is a huge wooden pumpkin (approx. 7 feet high x 6 feet wide) that was made by a local carpenter for my family. Where did I find Randy? I visited our local pumpkin patch the first weekend it was open…they always have the best wooden Fall themed structures and I asked for the contact number of who made it. Voila – I got to work with Randy years ago and it produced a wonderful decoration! It also doubled as a party game when my kids were younger because the pumpkin eyes, nose, and smile had holes big enough that we’d bring it inside for a bean bag toss game. The best thing about this decoration is how I can simply compost it when it starts falling apart. See below picture for an example of wooden decorations found at a pumpkin patch – this would look great in front of a house!
Greening decorations is a big part of making Halloween more sustainable. It’s important to know that the wall decals sold at dollar stores for Halloween for indoor decorating are made from PVC. Yes, these will off-gas when first applied to the wall so we keep these out of kids rooms, etc. when we reuse them each year. I have noticed more options available for wall appliques in stores this year made from non-toxic materials – paper, etc. For decorating a nook in your home or classroom, these garlands from my company Green Planet Parties are sweet and the burlap banners have been very popular to string outside across windows or porches.
We have a fair number of costumes from years of hosting Halloween parties. This year, thanks to the great tips from Green Halloween, I started a Facebook Group and invited friends to join a costume swap. Creating a Facebook Group only took a few minutes and I asked people if they had costumes they want to sell, trade, or lend out to post on the wall. People are enthusiastic and it’s perfect for people like me that are too attached to let go costumes my kids have worn – I can feel good about lending them out so they get used and save a parent purchasing another single use item.
Halloween crafting doesn’t have to be a wasteful activity. Reusing canning jars around the house makes fun specimen jars (you can get really creative with these). Another way to reduce waste is if you’re purchasing pumpkins early in the month, don’t carve them and keep them off the ground. Painting pumpkins is lots of fun for younger children and the pumpkins will last all month. We have a tradition of making ghost pumpkins from our first visit to the patch each year. My kids LOVE this activity and now that I’ve found earth friendly acrylic paint, I’ll be trying my first every black cat pumpkin this year. . . stay tuned.
If you are looking to avoid traditional Halloween candy without artificial ingredients – check out Surf Sweet treats. They are delicious so your kids won’t roll their eyes with these organic goodies. Other great facts about this brand are:
~made with organic sweeteners, including organic fruit juice
~ excellent source of Vitamin C
~ candy made without corn syrup and GMOs
~ produced and packaged in a facility free of the 10 most common allergens
~ socially responsible and my favorite manufactures the candy in Canada and the US! Yes!
Starting early is the key to greening any celebration. Plan your Halloween activities, costumes, decorating early and think about adding locally manufactured and sustainable products if you need new holiday gear this October. Or try making a costume or decoration new again from borrowing from a friend. Please post ideas you have for making this ‘tough to green’ holiday a little more earth friendly.
This post is part of the 2011 Greening your Halloween Blog Tour brought to us by Green Planet Parties, Green Halloween, Green Gift Guide, Surf Sweets and A Little Bit of Momsense.